Govt in land hunt to relocate Saarc Secretariat

  • SAARC village plans
- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Govt in land hunt to relocate Saarc Secretariat

Jul 20, 2014-

The government is planning to relocate the Saarc Secretariat from Tridevi Marg, Thamel, to a spacious location within Kathmandu Valley, where it would be renamed Saarc Village.

Nepal has made commitments in various Saarc forums to finding a spacious area for the secretariat and residences for its senior officials. Officials hope to find a suitable location before the 18th Saarc Summit scheduled to be held in Kathmandu in November.

Along with the secretariat, the Village will house the residences of the Saarc secretary general and eight directors representing each member state with some recreational facilities.

The scattered rented apartments of the secretary general and directors have cost the regional grouping huge amounts of money, said an official, adding that the facility would be a way for the members to cut expenses.

Sources said the Saarc Secretariat pays around Rs 25 million in rent every year to accommodate its senior officials. An announcement on the new site is expected to be made at the upcoming summit.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has formed a panel headed by Joint-secretary Lok Bahadur Thapa, with line ministry officials as members, for space hunt.

An obvious choice would be state-owned land, said a Foreign Ministry official, adding that purchasing property is the unavoidable option in its absence. Since it has been a prestige issue for Nepal, the panel is advised to find at least 12 ropani land for separate constructions for the secretariat and official residences.

“The present location of the Saarc Secretariat is congested. We are planning to relocate it,” said Bharat Kumar Regmi, assistant spokesman for the ministry. The panel would also come up with necessary estimates.

There have been calls from member states in the past to relocate the secretariat but Nepal has done nothing substantive to honour its commitment.

A proposal forwarded by the secretariat—Strengthening the Saarc Secretariat, which is being studied by the member states, envisions the idea. The secretariat has urged the members to find a space where diplomatic conduct can go smoothly.

That some Saarc Regional Centres are more spacious than the secretariat has put pressure on the government to seek a better location. The building arranged by the government in 1987 falls close to a busy tourist area and does not have sufficient parking space.

This time around, the government seems serious to address the concerns, said another Foreign Ministry official.

Published: 21-07-2014 08:46

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